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NEWS AND NOTES

March 31, 1997
March 31, 1997

Table of Contents
March 31, 1997

Figure Skating
Baseball Preview 1997

NEWS AND NOTES

PLAYING GOLF IN THE FAST LANE

This is an article from the March 31, 1997 issue Original Layout

Speed golf is an oxymoron to most players, but for the small,
fanatic group called Xtreme golfers, any round that takes more
than an hour is too long. Dave Noland, a writer-runner from
Mountainville, N.Y., went to the aptly named Morgan Run Golf
Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., to compete in the fourth Xtreme
Golf Championship.

On the first tee at 7:18 a.m., I review my strategy: Grip it,
rip it, then run like hell after it. "Thinking is way overrated
in golf," says Bob Babbitt, the tournament chairman. In Xtreme
golf, all USGA rules apply, with two wrinkles: Scores are
increased by one stroke for each minute required to play the 18
holes, and flagsticks are not removed while putting. As for
clubs, caddies in carts hand them to us on the go.

The field of 10, all here by invitation, includes Steve Scott,
who still holds the U.S. record for the mile; Dave Johnson, of
Dan and Dave Olympic fame; and yours truly, a 50-year-old,
15-handicap jogger.

The field tees off in onesomes at two-minute intervals. Scott, a
12-handicap, wearing running shorts--a blatant and intentional
violation of Morgan Run's dress code--leads off by blistering
his drive. Before his ball has stopped, he has run 50 yards down
the fairway. His approach hits the green, and after three putts,
he has an 80-second bogey.

When I tee off, 18 minutes later, Scott is running off the ninth
green, having shot 50 on the front nine. I hit a three-iron down
the fairway, but my approach hits a tree, my third goes in a
bunker and by the time I hole out, I have an 8. Worse, I've used
an agonizing 4 1/2 minutes. My pretournament goals--to break 100
in under an hour and not to finish last--already seem out of
reach.

After a wretched front-nine 54, I rebound, going three-over for
the next five holes. This improvement coincides with growing
fatigue--it seems oxygen debt improves my game. On the 18th, a
par-5, I summon my final reserves to maintain a ponderous lope.
Three crisp iron shots put me on the fringe. Gasping like a
blowfish, I chip the ball, then ram home a slippery eight-foot
putt for par. Sweat-drenched, I flop down on the green with a
wide smile. Strokes: 99. Time: 59:53. Total Score: 159.

Scott had burned the course in 39:03 but took 96 shots and
finished sixth. The winner was Jay Larson, 41, the defending
champion and a former world-class triathlete with a scratch
handicap. Larson, from San Diego, shot 77 in 40:28, wearing long
pants no less. Johnson finished eighth with an 85 in 55:46.
"That's what I shoot in four hours," he says.

I was ecstatic with my ninth-place finish, especially because I
was the oldest contestant. The way I see it, that makes me the
U.S. Senior Xtreme Golf champion. Who says thinking is overrated
in golf?

DAVIES'S WIN IN PHOENIX MAKES LPGA HISTORY

Before she began the defense of her title at the Standard
Register Ping at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, a
tournament she had won for three straight years, Laura Davies
was almost overwhelmed. "After the big buildup the starter gave
me on Thursday, I was in a frenzy," said Davies. "I was so
nervous." By Sunday, though, she seemed calm and collected,
completing a 15-under-par 277, then beating Kelly Robbins on the
first hole of sudden death.

It was only later, when the significance of the LPGA's first
four-peat had sunk in, that Davies was again awed. "When you
think of all the great champions over the years in the LPGA, and
I'm the first to win four in a row, it's unbelievable. I'm
flabbergasted," she said.

Nothing done by Davies, who has won 15 times during her 10 years
on the LPGA tour, surprises her peers. In 1996 she won nine
tournaments worldwide, including two of the LPGA's four majors.
"I've never seen a player so immensely talented," says Sandra
Haynie, who won the Charity Golf Classic in Fort Worth three
times in a row, from 1973 to '75. "She comes to play every week."

WILL FEMALE PHENOM FOLLOW THE TIGER TRAIL?

March 18 was a typical Tuesday for 17-year-old Grace Park, a
high school senior already regarded by many as the Tiger Woods
of women's golf. After her classes at Horizon High in Phoenix,
Park drove to Moon Valley Country Club, site of the Standard
Register Ping tournament, and outdistanced all but one of the
LPGA's big hitters in a long-drive contest.

Michelle McGann? No problem. Park dusted her by 20 yards. Wendy
Ward? Smoked her by 28. The only player who exceeded Grace's
long drive of 293 yards was Laura Davies, whose 299-yarder saved
the day for the pros. "That was the first time I've seen her,"
Davies said, "but if she keeps going, she'll be an incredibly
long hitter."

Distance off the tee is not the only thing Park has in common
with Woods. Both dominated the junior ranks, Park having won 14
national tournaments last year, and both have a knack for
playing well on the big stage--at 15, Park shot 69 in the
opening round of the '95 U.S. Women's Open.

Park, who was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. when she
was 12, will enroll at Arizona State this fall, but many
observers expect her to follow in Woods's footsteps and turn pro
before graduating. In January, when Woods presented Park with
the Dial Award, given to the top high school scholar-athlete in
the country, Park listened carefully as he described the changes
in his life since turning pro. "He took the right chance at just
the right time," she says.

Although Park has been competing in Monday qualifiers for LPGA
events, she will play in this week's Nabisco Dinah Shore in
Rancho Mirage, Calif., and the Sprint Titleholders in Daytona
Beach, Fla., in early May, on invitations. If she plays well,
she might raise a few corporate eyebrows, a la Woods. For the
time being, though, Park has but one priority. "No endorser is
going to step up with $40 million, or even $5 million," says
Chuck Hogan, her coach. "Grace's motivation is playing golf."

THE SHAG BAG

Jose Maria Olazabal, in his third tournament since returning
from a 17-month layoff, won the Turespana Masters in in
Maspalomas, Spain, by shooting 70-67-68-67 for a 20-under-par
272. "When the moment came that I knew I was going to win, many
thoughts came to mind," said Olazabal, who beat England's Lee
Westwood by two strokes. "I remembered the heartbreaking times
when I thought I would not be able to play again. I never
expected to do this so quickly. It was a very difficult and
special moment."...Arnold Palmer has created the Palmer Cup, a
collegiate version of the Walker Cup. The inaugural event will
be held in July at Bay Hill, then move to St. Andrews in '98 and
the Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., the following year.... Bob
Lohr, who lost his Tour card last year and hasn't played
competitively while nursing his father back from an injury
suffered in a car accident in November, made his return at Bay
Hill and shot a 19-over 91 in the first round before withdrawing.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK In Xtreme golf, the players must run out every shot while the caddies can ride. [Back view of caddy in golf cart handing golf club to running golfer]COLOR PHOTO: KEIICHI SATO Park will enroll at Arizona State, but how long will she stay? [Grace Park with golf trophies]

MASTERS MATTERS

Few tournaments have been dissected as thoroughly as the
Masters, and no course has been studied as intensely as Augusta
National. Golf Plus asked a fivesome of Tour pros, who
collectively have played in 42 Masters, to look ahead to the
year's first major.

THE PLAYERS

Nick Price

THE HARDEST SHOT

A tie between the approach on No. 3 and the tee shot at the 4th.

THE EASIEST HOLE

No. 17. A big driving area and green, which you can reach with a
short iron.

FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEK

On Thursday, when the bell rings. All the waiting, the practice
and the hype are finished.

ON SUNDAY, WILL YOUR OUTFIT GO WITH GREEN?

Oh, no, that would really be tempting fate.

[THE PLAYERS]

Tom Lehman

[THE HARDEST SHOT]

The approach at the 3rd's always on an uphill lie, and the green
is small. Short or long is bogeyville.

[THE EASIEST HOLE]

No. 2. With a decent drive you're thinking birdie, and there
aren't many holes like that out there.

[FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEK]

The whole atmosphere, particularly on Sunday. There's nothing
like it at the other majors.

[ON SUNDAY, WILL YOUR OUTFIT GO WITH GREEN?]

It might be wise. I wouldn't think I was ready to win if I
decided to wear an orange plaid shirt.

[THE PLAYERS]

Jeff Sluman

[THE HARDEST SHOT]

The tee shot on the 4th. It's a hole where if you make par, you
jog to the next tee with a big smile.

[THE EASIEST HOLE]

No. 8. All the par-5s are reachable, but the 8th doesn't have
much of a hazard problem.

[FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEK]

The days preceding the tournament. There's so much electricity
and anticipation in the air.

[ON SUNDAY, WILL YOUR OUTFIT GO WITH GREEN?]

That would never cross my mind.

[THE PLAYERS]

Sandy Lyle

[THE HARDEST SHOT]

Definitely hitting it out of one of the fairway bunkers at the
18th.

[THE EASIEST HOLE]

No. 16. When the pin's back left. You hit a six- or seven-iron
to the middle, and it feeds to the hole.

[FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEK]

The champions' dinner. It's very nice, and few people get a
chance to experience it.

[ON SUNDAY, WILL YOUR OUTFIT GO WITH GREEN?]

I don't think I'd wear scarlet pink or anything like that. Most
of what I wear goes well with green anyway.

[THE PLAYERS]

Ernie Els

[THE HARDEST SHOT]

Jeez, no question: the tee shot at the 12th.

[THE EASIEST HOLE]

No. 15. With a mid-iron second, making birdie is fairly easy.

[FAVORITE PART OF THE WEEK]

The par-3 contest. I wrote to Sam Snead and Gary Player, and
we're going to play together.

[ON SUNDAY, WILL YOUR OUTFIT GO WITH GREEN?]

No. I don't even want to think about that.

THE NUMBERS

84, 105

PGA Tour events Sam Snead won in his career, and the total
victories of the other 15 players in the Demaret division of
last week's Legends of Golf.